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Volume 10 No. 01
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Accepted Papers

Scientific Investigations

Periodic Limb Movements Are Associated with Vasomotor Symptoms

Jan Wesström, M.D.1,2; Jan Ulfberg, M.D., Ph.D.3; Inger Sundström-Poromaa, M.D., Ph.D1; Eva Lindberg, M.D., Ph.D.4
1Department of Women's and Children's Health, Uppsala University, Uppsala, Sweden; 2Center for Clinical Research Dalarna, Falun, Sweden; 3Sleep Disorder Department, Capio, Örebro, Sweden; 4Department of Medical Sciences, Respiratory Medicine and Allergology, Uppsala University, Uppsala, Sweden

Study Objectives:

Periodic limb movements (PLMs) are characterized by involuntary movements of the lower extremity during sleep. The etiology of PLM has been suggested to involve the dopaminergic system which, in turn, can be modulated by estrogen. It is currently unknown whether PLMs are associated with the menopausal transition and/or concomitant vasomotor symptoms. The aim of the present study was to examine if objectively diagnosed PLMs (with and without arousals) are more common in postmenopausal women or in women with vasomotor symptoms. A secondary aim was to analyze the influence of PLMs on self-reported HRQoL.


A community-based sample of 348 women underwent full-night polysomnography. PLMs (index > 15) and associated arousals (PLM arousal index > 5) were evaluated according to AASM scoring rules. Health-related quality of life was measured using the SF-36 questionnaire. The occurrence of peri- and postmenopausal symptoms were evaluated by a questionnaire and plasma levels of follicle stimulating hormone (FSH) were measured.


After adjusting for confounding factors, vasomotor symptoms remained a significant explanatory factor for the occurrence of PLMs (adj. OR 1.86, 95% CI 1.03-3.37). In women with PLM arousals, adjusted OR for vasomotor symptoms was 1.61, 95% CI 0.76-3.42. PLMs did not seem to affect HRQoL.


We found that clinically significant PLMs, but not PLM with arousals, were more common among women with vasomotor symptoms, even after controlling for confounding factors. Menopausal status per se, as evidenced by FSH in the postmenopausal range, was not associated with PLMs.


Wesström J; Ulfberg J; Sundström-Poromaa I; Lindberg E. Periodic limb movements are associated with vasomotor symptoms. J Clin Sleep Med 2014;10(1):15-20.

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